My retreat into the mountains

Autumn always reminds me of my mother. It was her favorite season when the world around us became more and more colorful.

For a long time I couldn’t connect well with this time. As much as the days lost sunlight and hours, they seemed to gain rain. By then school had usually started again, which did not contribute to the general popularity of the third season.

But here in the south of France, surrounded by the last foothills of the Alps, I too began to admire the colorful mountain slopes.

By now, I am a big fan of autumn!

While it is cold early in the morning, the rising sun quickly warms the air to a pleasant freshness.

It is also a time when I can still eat fruit straight from nature. In the truest sense of the proverb, livig from hand to mouth.

The rose hips are finally getting soft and sweet. It is the first wild plant in this area that Druid Julian taught me to eat. The small beechnuts are an elaborate but very rewarding snack of the forest 🙂

I sit on the ground; leaning against a tree – a pine with silver-colored bark – and watch the leaves tumbling towards the earth.

A few days ago, on a full moon and also on Halloween evening, I set off with my touring bike, an immense supply of food and a great mood as a travel companion to spend the French lockdown (which came as a reaction to the second wave of the Covid virus) in a forest, located in a remote valley.

From my starting point south-east of Sisterons you could already see the mountain ranges between which the valley was embedded. Few people lived here, and the deeper you got into the valley, the more the immediate surroundings changed.

a view over the shoulder; back the way I came

What was initially a normal country road (a ‘real’ one, concreted, with central strips and delineators, without boulders blocking the way) soon turned into washed-out dirt roads and action-packed gravel paths.

Fewer and fewer houses lined the streets, giving way to colorfully overgrown hills, barren fields and forests.

Now the paths began to lead truly adventurous through the forest, steeply up and down, the only people rarely seen were mushroom pickers and mountain bike riders.

if you look closely you can see the bike – it’s so steep here that you have to carry the bags and the bike up one by one

I am sure that they had never seen such a heavily packed cyclist in this area; Their astonished looks almost confirmed this.

The mountains were already piling up on both sides and the valley began to narrow.

I had been following a river for a long time that I wanted to cross soon, assuming that the river side on the other side of the way was even less visited.

Since camping and in particular any kind of fire is forbidden in all French forests, I wanted to set up my base camp as far as possible off the beaten track. I also wanted to be able to leave most of my equipment and supplies behind without fear while exploring the area for several days.

So I started to cross the river.

My lessons learned from this are as follows:

  1. Shoes, socks and depending on the situation trousers should definitely be removed when crossing rivers, especially in cold seasons or generally cold regions of the world – otherwise you could spend hours or days getting them dry again.
  2. It’s best to carry your luggage piece by piece, as very few rivers have an easy-to-walk underground.
  3. … and very important … walk along the shore for a while. Perhaps you will discover a ford or even a bridge (in my case it was the former, and a few kilometers upstream a broken version of the latter)

I’ll remember that next time!

I’ll be in touch soon for the next part of my retreat, until then – stay in
Peace 🙂

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